Royal Dutch Shell and German chemicals maker BASF were dealt a costly blow last month in a court ruling in Brazil that found both companies liable for contaminating groundwater with toxic waste northwest of Sao Paulo.
The ruling puts Shell and BASF in the lead position in this installment of The Green Gauge, a breakdown of companies that made headlines Aug. 22 to Sept. 6 for winning or losing credibility based on environment-related activity.
Selections of companies were made by Christopher Greenwald, director of data content at ASSET4, a Thomson Reuters business that provides investment research on the environmental, social and governance performance of major global corporations. These ratings are not recommendations to buy or sell.
A court in Paulinia, Brazil has ruled that Shell and BASF are responsible for the “collective damage” caused by toxic emissions to the groundwater at a large pesticide plant 120 kilometres northwest of Sao Paulo, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reported. Shell built the plant in the late 1970s and BASF controlled it between 2000 and 2002. The total liabilities are estimated to be $626 million, which include payments of $360 million to over 1,000 individuals who have experienced illnesses believed to have been caused by toxic chemicals at the plant. BASF claimed that Shell is solely responsible for the problem. Both BASF and Shell said they plan to appeal the ruling.
Greenpeace Brazil originally exposed the problem of toxic pollution at Shell’s plant in this 2001 report.